Here at HN, we are an equal opportunity appreciator of thrills, spills and everything in between. Today’s “Oh $h!t” moment is brought to you by my foxhunter friend Julie.
So I’d been riding Julie’s 5-year-old mare Nikon for a couple months, trying to get her legged up for her very first foxhunt. The big day rolls around, and I tell Julie that yeah, sure, I’d be happy to take her out. We get to the hunt, and I’m tacking Nikon up, and I notice that people are giving me “the look” and making off-handed remarks like, “Well, aren’t you brave.” I didn’t really think anything of it–yeah, she’s green, whatever–and we rode out and Nikon was pretty much a star the whole time.
On the drive home, though, I asked Julie about it. At which point she sheepishly admitted that, yes, Nikon did have a little bit of a history with the hunt–she’d taken her on a social trail ride with them the summer before and… some bad things happened. Bad things that happened to get caught on film and were widely circulated on the web.
Photos by Gretchen Pelham
At first I thought, “That might’ve been useful information to know.” Then it occurred to me that, had I seen those pictures beforehand, I might not have given Nikon a chance to be the good girl that she was, because I wouldn’t been on the defensive the whole time, expecting her to do something crazy and/or homicidal at any moment. Or, I might have opted to just sit the whole thing out in the first place, and I would’ve missed a great hunt.
You know, horses aren’t that dissimilar from people in that they’ve got pasts, they’ve got skeletons in the closet, they’ve done things in their life they probably aren’t proud of. When Nikon thinks of the day she bucked Julie off in front of the entire hunt and, later, all of her Facebook friends, she probably feels ashamed, like, “Man, I was young and stupid. What was I even thinking?” (Well, OK, so that’s probably a stretch.) But horses, like people, can change, and we can’t hold their histories against them. Everybody deserves a second chance, a clean slate. Everybody deserves the opportunity to embrace a fresh start.
It’s a beloved “Oh $h!t” tradition to dedicate a song to the fallen soldiers of Horse Nation. Julie and Nikon, this one goes out to you:
Turn the clock to zero buddy
Don’t wanna be no fuddy duddy
Started up a brand new day
Go Riding, and try not to fall off if you can help it.
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